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Canucks Post Game: Tan Man can, Green sees gold, Markstrom the saviour, bouquets for Boucher – The Province

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Antoine Roussel reacts after scoring opening goal Thursday.

Anne-Marie Sorvin / USA TODAY Sports

Points to ponder as the Canucks not only talked the talk, they walked to walk to open a 3-1 lead before squandering a 4-3 edge. Chris Tanev won it in overtime as the Canucks collected a confidence-building 5-4 decision Thursday over the red-hot Golden Knights at Rogers Arena:

YES, THE TAN MAN CAN:“I didn’t think it (pass) was going to get to me and ended up on my stick and I went around Fleury’ 

Hands up. Who had Chris Tanev in the overtime-goal pool? Nobody? Thought so.

Tanev does so much for the Canucks on a nightly basis — he led the club with three blocked shots Thursday and is third in the NHL with 83 blocks — and the fact he found a way to beat Marc-Andre Fleury for the overtime winner for his second goal of the season was beyond poetic justice.

His effort was better than his celebration and judging by the post-game reaction in the room, the decisive goal couldn’t have gone to a better guy.

I’m super happy for Taney,” said Jacob Markstrom, whose late-game blocker save off Paul Stastny could have been the headline. “He’s been playing good and he’s a guy who never complains and always does more than expected.”

“That was pretty,” added Tanner Pearson. “I’m not so sure about his celebration, but the goal was pretty.”

As for the winner, Tanev seemed somewhat surprised that the pass actually got to him and he somehow got it by Fleury.

“I just passed it to Bo (Horvat) and went to the net and he made a really great pass,” started Tanev. “I didn’t think it was going to get to me and ended up on my stick and I went around Fleury and it ended up going in.

“We’ve been struggling lately and it’s been tough to find wins and it’s big. Hopefully, we can get on a roll. They took it to us badly in Las Vegas (6-3 loss Sunday) and it’s huge to get a win against a team that you know is going to be there at the end of the season.”

GREEN SEES GOLD:This was a little bit of a hurdle against that team. They’ve had their way with us. We stood tall’

This how the Canucks coach started his post-game press conference:

“Good effort. We had a lot of guys play well and a hell of a win against a really good team. I didn’t feel like we were under siege at all and I loved the way we started the game.

“You get up on a team like that by a couple of goals and you know they’re still going to get their chances. But it wasn’t like we were going to sit back and defend. We had the lull in the second period and I liked how we got our composure back.”

He could have gone on an on because after three-straight losses and four in the last five games, a hockey-mad market was mad. Who was to blame? The players, the coach, the general manager.

But on a night where Elias Pettersson not only scored two goals but looked more than comfortable in a big boys’ game — he also rang another shot off the crossbar — there was a lot to take from the game. The Canucks didn’t get run out of their building when the Golden Knights cranked up the hitting and poking and prodding and jabbing.

You want a taste of what it could be like if the Canucks make the postseason? Well, you got it Thursday. Green even called a time-out after the Golden Knights rallied for two quick second-period goals to make it 3-3.

“It was a chance for our team to take a breath and the confidence level of our team is probably not as high as it has been,” admitted Green. “I maybe sensed we were fragile for a few seconds after they tied it. It happened fast. I just wanted us to re-focus and it (win) takes a little pressure off them.

“It also justifies that this was a little bit of a hurdle for us against that team. They’ve had their way with us. And when they crank it up physically, it can go one of two ways — either you crumble and back off or stand tall — and I thought we stood tall. Down the road when we start playing playoff games, it’s going to be heavy like that.”

MARKSTROM’S GAME-SAVER:You want to have an impact. You want to help and that was my time to step up’

The Canucks weren’t going to totally deny a club on an 8-2-1 roll heading into Thursday’s clash. They knew it. Jacob Markstrom knew it.

He kept his poise early in the game when the Golden Knights pressed for the equalizer by staying square and calm. He denied Chandler Stephenson on a short-handed opportunity before Pearson struck to make it 2-1 on the power play. There was that backhander chance in tight in tight by Mark Stone.

Markstrom had little chance on the goals that beat him and gave the Canucks a chance to win — especially when he robbed Stastny with a blocker save on a power play late in regulation and had 38 saves before overtime.

“The puck kind of came out back side and it was more of a desperation save and I just tried to get over to the post as quick as possible,” said Markstrom. “That was a timely save. You want to have an impact. You want to help the guys and that was my time to step up.

“We just needed a win and I didn’t care how it looked. They don’t dump a lot of pucks in. They cycle and lot and they’re all about possession — a little bit of European-style hockey. You see the Russian and Swedes do that stuff and they don’t like to give away the pucks when they have it.”

KILLING THEM SOFTLY:‘If you’re slipping, you kind of let them dictate the PP instead of you dictating the PK’

There’s no glamour in penalty killing.

Do it right and nobody really notices because it doesn’t show in individual statistics — unless you’re taking the draws — and doing it wrong often puts you in the highlight reel for the wrong reason.

Jay Beagle has made a career of being a force in the face-off circle, being good in shutdown match-ups and a pain to play against on the power play. And when the penalty kill goes from top-10 status to 16th and just 24h at home, it’s going to raise eyebrows.

To his credit, Beagle knows how to keep it light in the room and even in warm-ups and owns it when it’s a mea culpa.

The Montreal Canadiens scored on their two power-play chances Tuesday to turn a 1-1 struggle into a 3-1 cushion. The Vegas Golden Knights scored on two of their four chances Sunday in a 6-3 triumph and they went 0-for-1 on Thursday because the Canucks were disciplined in a game that featured 53 hits.

Penalty kill success isn’t rocket science. It’s predicated on push and structure and health.

At one point this season, prime kill guys Beagle, Brandon Sutter and Tyler Motte were all sidelined by ailments, It pressed Bo Horvat, Tanner Pearson and Loui Eriksson into those roles with mixed results. Beagle is at his best with Tim Schaller, who was re-inserted into the lineup Thursday in place of the injured Sutter.

So, what’s missing?

“It’s that urgency and compete,” said Beagle. “Even that game (Tuesday), the guy (Tomas Tatar) slips in behind me and I wasn’t urgent enough on my part. They get the 2-1 goal (PP) and the next one (PP) and we lose because we didn’t get the job done on the PK.

“Familiarity is huge. It makes the job that much easier because you know exactly what he (PK partner) is going to do before he does it. But when guys get hurt, there are switch-ups and changes and you have to still learn to get the job done — no matter what.

“There lots of talk. I like killing with Motte, too, because he’s very smart and has a great stick. It’s just a matter now of knowing his tendencies and making sure that we’re talking a lot and reading off each other. And sometimes, that takes a little bit of time to come, too.”

Beagle is usually a beast in defensive-zone draws. He’s seventh overall with a 57.9 per cent success rate and has won 58 of 101 PK assignments, even though he has to take draws on his weak side because the PK gets to dictate O-zone face-offs.

“They’re so key because if you’re slipping, you kind of let them dictate the PP instead of you dictating the PK,” added Beagle. “Even if we don’t clear, they’re fighting to get the puck back.”

BOUCHER’S RECORD BLAST:I’ve seen him make some crazy plays and win games. He can score in a lot of ways’

Reid Boucher isn’t the faster skater, but he has a quick grip on NHL reality.

The Utica Comets winger set a franchise record for career goals Wednesday with his 76th in 125 AHL games during a 4-3 win at Belleville. He passed Darren Archibald, who managed 75 in 304 games.

Boucher not only has 20 goals in his first 24 outings this season — the left-winger leads the league in that category and his 34 points are tied for the best output — but his ability to understand the roster rationale and recall pecking order with the parent club, while leading by example in the minors is a major accomplishment.

“I take everything in practices seriously when it comes to shooting the puck and trying to score in practice and that’s been part of my success for the last couple of years,” said Boucher. “I don’t think it’s a matter of staying positive, it’s controlling what I can control. I can’t control being called up or sent down, but I can control how hard I work.”

His roster fate was cemented on Day 1 of training camp at Victoria. The arrival of wingers J.T. Miller and Micheal Ferland through offseason acquisitions only added to a glut of forwards. A leaner and driven Boucher was there to push the pace and push those who had been pencilled into a particular place. 

He did just that.

And being on his fourth-consecutive one-year contract — this one pays US$750,000 at the NHL level and $450,000 in the AHL — is as much about handling his attitude as his game.

“He’s a good pro,” said Green. “He’s a big part of their team and a good leader, too, and that’s one thing that goes unnoticed.  And when you talk about dragging them into the fight, he’s a guy with who it’s not just about goals with him — every day he plays hard and will fight once in a while.

“I have a lot of respect for what he’s done down there.”

It’s the shot that sets Boucher apart.

A quick, hard and accurate release allowed the 26-year-old Lansing, Mich. native to score 20 goals in 133 career NHL games with New Jersey, Nashville and Vancouver.

He uses an STX composite stick that has a 75 flex rate, which players have called a “noodle.” Brock Boeser made his mark as a rookie with a 90 flex because he has the strength and skill to get a lot on his shot and pick corners. What’s the deal with Boucher’s low-flex stick?

“It lets me shoot the same with less effort,” he said. “Shoot hard without loading the stick as much and it comes off (the blade) quicker.”

Jalen Chatfield is in his third season with the Comets and has witnessed Boucher’s impact. The recalled derenceman lauded Boucher’s caring, work ethic and leadership.

“He was really great for me my first year down there,” said the 23-year-old Chatfield. “He a big part every night and when he’s out, you can see it in our power play. He’s one of the best — if not the best — scorers in the AHL.

“I’ve seen him make some crazy plays and win games for us. He can score in a lot of ways. If teams let him slip away, he moves around and reacts with that shot — he’s always a threat.”

bkuzma@postmedia.com
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Jake Muzzin strikes nerve with Matthew Tkachuk, earns retribution for Maple Leafs – Yahoo Canada Sports

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CBC

Back to school: Brad Gushue pursuing master’s degree amid chaotic curling season

World Junior champion. World champion. Olympic champion. Three-time Brier champion. The list of accomplishments for Newfoundland and Labrador skip Brad Gushue is lengthy. There isn’t anything left in curling for him to win. He’s done it all. Now in the winter of his career, the 40-year-old, who’s preparing to head to Calgary next month for upwards of eight weeks to compete in a number of bonspiels, is heading back to class. Gushue is the early days of working towards his Masters of Business at Queen’s University. “I’m a sucker for punishment I think. It just felt like the right time,” Gushue said. “I don’t think I would have done this if the pandemic wasn’t here and didn’t have the curling season we’ve had.” Sitting around and thinking about things isn’t something Gushue particularly enjoys. He’s a perfectionist on the ice — early in his career he’d throw more than 100 rocks a day. That changed when curling great Kevin Martin told him to tone it down. So when there was some down time this past summer in the midst of an incessant pandemic, Gushue started to think about life after curling in a way he hasn’t before, and decided on going back to class. “I was kind of thinking post-curling career, whether that’s in a year in a half, five and a half years or nine and a half years, what do I want to transfer into?” he told CBC Sports from his home in St. John’s, N.L. “As a business owner right now, there were a lot of positives to doing this. I guess the downside is that for this next year I’m going to be pretty busy and have to get back to studying, which I haven’t done in 17 years. Gushue is co-owner with teammate Mark Nichols of Orange Theory Fitness studio in St. John’s. Out of his comfort zone All those years ago Gushue got his Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Memorial University. It’s been a long time since he’s been in this type of setting. He’s certainly out of his comfort zone — in the rings and in the hack — and now fully immersed in the books. The only thing he’s finding some sort of resemblance to curling is the team aspect of the program. Gushue says about 50 per cent of the course is team-based learning. During their first meeting Gushue says some of his team members recognized him. Others didn’t, but quickly googled who he was. “Then the questions came,” he said, laughing. “It’s been interesting.” Gushue says his six other team members, many who are fresh off their first degree, have been a massive support system so far. The skip is used to calling the shots, confident in his every move. That’s not the case on this school-studying team. “I feel like I’m the weak link. I’d be fifth if this was a curling team. No disrespect to fifths,” he said. “I wouldn’t be throwing the last rock. Let’s just say that.” WATCH | Breaking down Calgary curling bubble: Brier schedule Gushue, like he does before any major competition, has mapped out what his Brier schedule and school schedule are, and how much time he’ll be able to put into his studies while trying to win a fourth national championship. In the beginning of the event he says he’ll probably put about two hours a day into his studies between or after games to end the day. The ideal plan for Gushue is to win the Brier, play in the mixed doubles national championship, play in the men’s world championship and then stay a little longer to compete in the two Grand Slam events — he then has to quarantine for two weeks when he returns to St. John’s. It’ll be a long haul but Gushue takes comfort in knowing he’s using that time effectively by working towards a master’s degree. “When I went into this I spoke to the director and I talked to him about my priorities in trying to get back to the Olympics,” Gushue said. “It shouldn’t conflict with any classes.” His classes are every second Sunday and Monday. Curling championships are played on Sundays. Gushue won’t say what championship event and classes could collide, not wanting to jinx it, but he insists they’ve talked about a plan should it come to that. “That’s a problem I’m willing to entertain.”

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BBWAA rejects Schilling's removal request – TSN

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Curt Schilling’s request to be removed from Baseball Hall of Fame consideration appears to be heading for rejection.

A day after the three-time World Series champion asked to have his name taken off the ballot for 2022 following his failure to reach Cooperstown for a ninth time, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America released a statement saying that such an accommodation cannot be made and is a violation of the rules set forth by the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s board of directors.

 The BBWAA secretary Jack O’Connell cited one rule in particular that would prevent Schilling’s wish from being granted:

“The duty of the Screening Committee shall be to prepare a ballot listing in alphabetical order eligible candidates who (1) received a vote on a minimum of five percent (5%) of the ballots cast in the preceding election or (2) are eligible for the first time and are nominated by any two of the six members of the BBWAA Screening Committee.” 

Schilling appeared on 71.1 per cent of ballots, falling 16 votes shy of the 75 per-cent threshold. The BBWAA urges the board to leave the six-time All-Star on the ballot for his final year of eligibility in 2022.

The Hall of Fame assigned the BBWAA to be the electorate in 1936,” O’Connell said. “This association has abided by the rules for 85 years and shall continue to do so. The BBWAA urges the board to reject Mr. Schilling’s request.”

Schilling’s candidacy has been a controversial one because of the views espoused by the 54-year-old right-hander in retirement.

A staunch supporter of former President Donald Trump, Schilling voiced support for the Capitol riots of Jan. 6, causing a number of Hall of Fame voters to ask if their votes for Schilling could be rescinded.

Along with Schilling, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens will also appear on the ballot for the final time in 2022.

Schilling is not the first person to ask to have his name removed from the ballot.

In 2009, after falling a single vote short of Cooperstown, former MLBPA executive director Marvin Miller asked to be taken off the 2010 ballot.

“Many years ago, those who control the Hall of Fame decided to re-write history instead of recording it,” Miller said at the time. “The aim was to eradicate the tremendous impact the players union on the progress and the development of the game as a competitive sport, as entertainment and as an industry.”

Miller would finally be elected to Cooperstown in 2019, seven years after his death in 2012.

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Tkachuk-Muzzin fireworks add new chapter to Flames’ growing rivalry with Leafs – Sportsnet.ca

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CALGARY – On his knees at the final buzzer, crushed by the Flames’ second loss in a row, Matthew Tkachuk had hockey’s version of sand kicked in his face.

Standing a few feet away from the Flames agitator, Jake Muzzin turned and deliberately flipped the puck at Tkachuk’s chest, punctuating the Leafs’ 4-3 win with a big ol’ middle finger.

Given Tkachuk’s penchant for perturbing, there aren’t many players in the league who wouldn’t love sending a similar message his way.

Fair enough.

Infuriated at the disrespect, Tkachuk sprung to his feet and immediately launched into the Leafs veteran, doing his best to square off with Muzzin while other Leafs and an official stepped in to separate them.

For his efforts, Muzzin was handed a meaningless unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, while an enraged Tkachuk stormed down the tunnel to the dressing room, attempting to smash several water bottles along the way.

What a shame these two don’t play again until Feb. 22.

Not just because it’s now clear the Leafs really did take exception to Tkachuk’s fall on Jack Campbell’s back a game earlier after all, but because the two just engaged in a whale of a see-saw battle.

Now we know there’s some juice in this matchup.

All it really ever takes is a little familiarity with Tkachuk for an opponent to start digging in against him. The Leafs and Flames are now building that animosity, with a full seven games left in their season series.

Don’t forget who Muzzin played alongside for many years in Los Angeles – yes, the man who Tkachuk has had a very public, running feud with: Drew Doughty.

You can bet that Doughty’s evening ended with a text to his old pal that included a string of supportive emojis.

As bush and symbolic as a puck flip into an opponent’s chest is, it sets the stage for more wonderful theatre and storylines when the two next meet. That’s what this North Division could – and should — be all about: vitriol, animosity, payback and passion.

On Tuesday, the game itself was entertaining, and that can normally carry the day. But the NHL is in the entertainment business and few things in sport are more entertaining than conflict.

As far as the game went, the Flames pulled another first-period no-show, outshot 10-1 and lucky to trail just 2-0 thanks to their new nightly saviour, Jacob Markstrom.

The Flames flipped the script in the second, outshooting the visitors 18-5 to set up a third period in which they bridged their 3-2 deficit with a tying goal from Johnny Gaudreau, his second of the game.

Although league scoring leader Mitch Marner would eventually break the deadlock with a snipe from the high slot that won the game with eight minutes left, nobody was feeling it more than Gaudreau on this night.

As part of a solid start to his season, Gaudreau had his first two-goal game since Dec. 12, 2019.

Alas, as usually happens when the Leafs win, Toronto’s big boys were the difference. Marner and Matthews both had a goal and a helper to clinch a two-game sweep over a Calgary club that spent the bulk of both games playing catch-up.

“First period was awful for the whole team, other than Marky,” said Gaudreau, slumped in his chair.

“We just didn’t show up in the first. Not the way we’re going to win games.”

The Flames can take solace in the fact that for the third time this season they followed up a horrific period with a doozy. But there wasn’t much else to take away from a game in which Geoff Ward’s defensive demands were ignored with regularity.

“We didn’t start on time, that’s for sure,” said Ward. “We got outworked early and we were really porous. We looked like we’d never tracked before in our life. Everything we do has to come from the fact we can check. You can’t give up four goals in this league regularly and expect to win games. We have to be committed to being good away from the puck.”

But nobody will be talking about that on Wednesday, as the Flames make their way to Montreal to play the red-hot Habs.

They’ll discuss the pettiness of a puck flip, the possibility of payback and the reality that we may just get playoff-type hostility long before the post-season begins.

For that we can thank Mr. Muzzin and Mr. Tkachuk, who’s next time together in the sandbox is already being discussed.

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